Repertory

  1. Cinderbox 2.0
  2. The Better Half
  3. Habituation
  4. Punk Yankees
  5. The Sky Hangs Down...
  6. Cinderbox 18
  7. She/Three
  8. Lulu Sleeps
  9. Surrelium
  10. Shift
  11. Voyaging
  12. Endplay
  13. Reverie
  14. Beneath the Surface
  15. Bedtime Stories
  16. Meet Them and Wonder...
  17. Swinesong
  18. Rituals of Polite Seduction
  19. Royal Flush

Cinderbox 2.0

2012, Spring to Dance Festival - Dance St. Louis

Lucky Plush Productions revisits the distinctive world of its critically acclaimed Cinderbox 18 (2007, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago) with a fresh spin. Taking a cue from media's voyeuristic approach to "reality," Cinderbox 2.0 explores the comedy and anxiety in our hyper-networked culture through a fragmented narrative, witty commentary, and a performance that blurs the distinctions between observer and observed, personal and presentational, scripted and off-the-cuff. The choreography is built upon incremental gestures that accumulate and dissolve in unexpected ways for a performance that is vulnerable, oddly familiar, and wonderfully surprising. In collaboration with artistic director Julia Rhoads, Cinderbox 2.0 features an original score by composer Michael Caskey.

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Press Quotes

  • "Cinderbox 18 [is] a visually, kinetically, sonically and intellectually dazzling piece of dance theater that comments brilliantly on the whole process of creating, rehearsing, performing, viewing and critiquing dance …Overall, it's a work you wish Mikhail Baryshnikov could see, because he might well be tempted to take on Rhoads and her dancers for a residency at his experimental dance center in New York." -Chicago Sun Times
  • "Artfully fragmented, Cinderbox 18 uses recognizable gestures, rigorous yet tottering movement and spoken text to examine the flimsy division between the public and private sectors…a shrewd and witty commentary on recovering the humanity from an increasingly manufactured way of life." -Chicago Tribune
  • "Lucky Plush artistic director Julia Rhoads unleashes her dry sense of humor in the evening-length Cinderbox 18. Taking a meta approach to dance, it's neither heavy nor dutiful but witty, even Beckettian…music, talk, and movement blend seamlessly." -Chicago Reader
  • "Julia Rhoads — Chicago's queen of clean, fluid choreography with surreal and comic touches — dives headfirst into uncharted waters with a new work combining movement, video, and text. Forced plotlines are distilled into mysteriously charged chitchat. What remains feels like an observation tank for a recently discovered tribe, in which the difference between cooperation and competition is difficult, if not impossible, to discern." -Flavorpill

The Better Half

2011, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

This lively spin on the noir classic Gaslight playfully captures the claustrophobia, escapist tendencies and resilience in domestic relationships, in a dance theater language full of surprising turns and contemporary resonance. The Better Half is co-created and co-directed by Lucky Plush’s Artistic Director Julia Rhoads and Leslie Buxbaum Danzig of 500 Clown.

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Promotional

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Reviews

  • “a piece of tremendous humor, humanity and, as to be expected in the hands of Julia Rhoads and Leslie Buxbaum Danzig, smartness.” Sharon Hoyer, New City. Read More
  • “this highly entertaining work from Lucky Plush Productions…[is] one of the most accessible exercises in modern dance you'll ever see.” Read More
  • “a breakneck pace, skipping like a spinning stone across its surfaces like a perfect piece of pop art.” Zachary Whittenburg, Time Out Chicago Read More

  • Audio Preview

  • Lucia Mauro on the WBEZ program 848: Audio Stream
New England Foundation for the Arts National Performance Network National Dance Project / MetLife Foundation
Audience Architects Dance USA Boeing Richard H Driehaus Foundation

Support

The Better Half premiered in October 2011 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Support for this presentation was generously provided by Pamela Crutchfield. The Better Half is a National Performance Network Project (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in partnership with the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and NPN. This performance is also supported in part by Audience Architects’ New Stages for Dance program, with leadership from Dance/USA and the MetLife Foundation. The creation and presentation of The Better Half is also supported by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with the New England Foundation for the Arts through the National Dance Project. Additional support is provided through project grants from Boeing, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

If...Then I Am Here

2008

Info coming soon...

In the Middle, Somewhat Replicated

2009

Info coming soon...

Habituation

2010, Spring to Dance, St. Louis

Referred to as "fresh and supremely present" after its premiere at Spring to Dance in St. Louis, Habituation unpacks the seemingly reflexive nature of the movements that we do every day, raising questions about influence, originality, and the ties between preference, habit, and creative choice.

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Credits

Choreography/Direction: Julia Rhoads
Collaborating Ensemble: Kim Goldman, Julia Rhoads, Meghann Wilkinson
Lighting Design: Julie Ballard
Music: Cinematic Orchestra, Matmos, Colleen, Electrelane, Bell Orchestre
Running Time: 17 minutes

Punk Yankees

2009, The Dance Center of Columbia College

Punk Yankees is a provocative and entertaining dance theater work that combines live performance, video, and the internet to unpack ideas about authenticity, originality, and the ownership of dance in the digital age.  With the controversial nature of dealing with issues of intellectual property, the work takes on challenging topics including sampling, mash-ups, stylistic referencing, impersonation, unconscious theft, lineage, cultural appropriation, and ideas about "fair use" in dance.  Featured in the Chicago Reader's "Best of Chicago 2010" for Best Commentary on Modern Technology by a Choreographer, "the fast-paced, witty Punk Yankees…is fundamentally paradoxical, tongue-in-cheek, subversive, and, best of all, great fun."

Visit our website StealThisDance.com, a virtual stage for our research and experiments for Punk Yankees, and a place where you can steal, buy, and share some dance moves!

Choreobibliography

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Reviews

  • "A terrific odyssey, full of amusing, varied and tireless dancing." -Chicago Tribune
  • "Its attitude is fundamentally paradoxical, tongue-in-cheek, and subversive." -SeeChicagoDance.com
  • "People like yourself and your colleagues represent for me the brilliant new generation of thinkers who have chosen, thank goodness, to dance." -William Forsythe, choreographer

Support

Punk Yankees premiered in October 2009 at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, and was made possible in part by a fellowship to Julia Rhoads from the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, the Joyce Theater Foundation, The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago and The A.W.A.R.D. Show!  2009: Chicago grant funded by a generous contribution from the Boeing Company.

Credits

Choreography/Direction: Julia Rhoads
Collaborating Ensemble: Jeremy Blair, Lia Bonfilio, David Gerber, Kim Goldman, Hogan MacLaughlin, Julia Rhoads, Nefertiti Thomas, Meghann Wilkinson
Original Music: Yea Big / Stefen Robinson
Lighting Design/Technical Direction: Kevin Rechner
Media Design: Julie Ballard
Video Design: John Boesche, Jocelyn Kelvin
Costume Design: Jeffrey Hancock
Text: Julia Rhoads & Lucky Plush Productions (original), William Shakespeare, Henry IV. 1596. (appropriated)
Additional Choreography: See Choreobibliography
Additional Music: Alarm Will Sound, Kate Bush, Corona, Electrelane, Lucky Plush Productions (live songs), Dean Martin, Henry Purcell, Wax Tailor, Robert Tiso.
Video Performances: Autumn Eckman, Adam Rose, Jon Sherman, and the Lucky Plush Ensemble
Promotional Images: Karen Wade
Stage Images: William Frederking
Flipbook Images: Cheryl Mann
Running Time: 87 minutes

The Sky Hangs Down Too Close

2008, The Galaxie

"What moves you?" This is the guiding question behind Lucky Plush Productions' The Sky Hangs Down Too Close, a work created by Associate Director Peter Carpenter. Conceived in response to the themes of conflict and desire in Bertolt Brecht's stark drama, In the Jungle of Cities (1924), this darkly satirical dance-theatre work reckons with the seductive and powerful forces that move us everyday. In The Sky Hangs Down Too Close, Carpenter develops arresting images that recall-often comically-the bizarre and shifting ways in which power articulates itself in both public and private interactions. Creating the work in collaboration with a cast of seven veteran ensemble members, Carpenter focuses on the concept of "unmotivated struggle"-a key theme for Brecht-as a way to understand the ways in which we move and are moved. In this, the piece critiques patterns within the social world and simultaneously recognizes the physical labor and symbolic potency of the dancing body.

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Credits

Choreography/Direction: Peter Carpenter
Collaborating Ensemble: Lia Bonfilio, Benjamin Law, Tim Heck, Jennifer Meek, Aaron Preusse, Jon Sherman and Meghann Wilkinson
Additional Choreography: Elizabeth Lentz and Julia Rhoads
Text: Peter Carpenter, Jon Sherman and Meghann Wilkinson - additional text from Bertolt Brecht's Jungle of Cities (1924)
Lighting Design/Technical Direction: Kevin Rechner
Costume Design: Jeff Hancock
Music: Glenn Branca, Ezekiel Honig, Martin Bogan & the Armstrongs – lyrics and music to "Baby" (sung live) by Caetano Veloso, translated to English by Os Mutantes
Promotional Images: Cheryl Mann
Stage Images: William Frederking
Running Time: 75 minutes

Cinderbox 18

2007, Museum of Contemporary Art

Cinderbox takes its cue from the media's voyeuristic approach to "reality" to explore the comedy and anxiety in our hyper-networked culture.   With a specific curiosity in the purportedly unscripted and fly-on-the-wall observational style of reality TV, the work both exploits and makes indistinct the live and virtual, private and public, observer and observed, improvised and choreographed, and the highly presentational and minutely subtle.  Athletic choreography, video, dialogue, and a "show within a show" characterize this complex and interactive environment shaped by the media technologies that alter our perception of how reality is generated.

 

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Reviews

In response to its premiere at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times notes:  "Cinderbox 18… [is] a visually, kinetically, sonically and intellectually dazzling piece of dance theater that comments brilliantly on the whole process of creating, rehearsing, performing, viewing and critiquing dance.  A deceptively difficult work that the eight members of Lucky Plush carry off as if it were the most easeful of long-form improvisations, the piece has a bit of Pirandello-like absurdism about it, as well as plenty of post-modern self-consciousness that has been neatly twisted into the most charming, self-mocking bits of playful humor."

Credits

Choreography/Direction: Julia Rhoads
Collaborating Ensemble: Lia Bonfilio, Marc Macaranas, Jennifer Meek, Benjamin Law, Elizabeth Lentz, Zachary Whittenburg, Meghann Wilkinson, Julia Wollrab
Original Music: David Pavkovic
Additional Music: The Clogs, Sigur Rós, Yes
Lighting Design/Technical Direction: Kevin Rechner
Video Design: John Boesche
Costume Design: Jeffrey Hancock
Text: Julia Rhoads and the Ensemble
Promotional Images: Cheryl Mann
Stage Images: William Frederking
Premiere: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Running Time: 85 minutes

She/Three

2007, Ruth Page Foundation

She/Three is an evening length choreographic triptych that muses on the shared and distinct qualities of three Shakespearean women - Juliet, Lady Macbeth, and Ophelia - through the point of view of three different artists- Brian Jeffery, Marianne Kim, and Peter Carpenter- utilizing dance, performance video, and theater. The lead artists, along with Lucky Plush Artistic Director Julia Rhoads, share a distinct history of collaboration through their affiliation with XSIGHT! Performance Group, a dance-theater company that was a unique and vital part of Chicago's dance community from 1985-2000.

 

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Reviews

"Refreshingly, the artists who shaped ‘She/Three' refrain from standard re-creations of [Shakespeare's] key female characters. Instead, they address larger themes, such as thwarted love or psychological confinement that emerge from these familiar literary figures." -Chicago Tribune

Credits

Promotional Images: Marianne Kim
Stage Images: William Frederking

Lulu Sleeps

2005, The Dance Center of Columbia College

Lulu Sleeps is an evening-length work reflecting the elusive residue of dreams.  With visual design elements of sculptor D Christopher Krause, costume designer Lara Miller, lighting designer Margaret Nelson, and video artists John Boesche and Logan Kibens, the stage becomes a visual playing field where dream archetypes and compelling physicality intersect.  Set to an original score by composer Mark Messing and Kevin O'Donnell, Lulu Sleeps journeys through the poetic and absurd nature of dreams.

Jumping off from images and themes in the most common recurring dreams (falling, flying, sex, death/decay, the situation where everyone else knows what is happening but you), Lulu Sleeps spins out into a non-linear dreamscape filled with rich and evocative movement and imagery. The Chicago Tribune refers to Lulu Sleeps as "Dreams re-imagined through a mysterious psychophysical language…an experience that is quite mesmerizing," and the Chicago Reader notes, "Funny, grotesque, or strikingly lyrical, Rhoads's choreography is beautifully executed."

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Support

Lulu Sleeps premiered at the Dance Center of Columbia College in 2005, and is made possible in part through a grant to Julia Rhoads from The Chicago Dancemakers Forum (CDF), a consortium made up of the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago and Links Hall, with funding from The Chicago Community Trust.

Credits

Choreography/Direction: Julia Rhoads
Collaborating Ensemble: Krenly Guzman, Elizabeth Lentz, Kathleen Matuszewich, Michael Rioux, Joanna Rosenthal, Zachary Whittenburg, Meghann Wilkinson
Original Music: Kevin O'Donnell
Lighting Design: Margaret Nelson
Video Design: John Boesche, Logan Kibens
Costume Design: Lara Miller
Promotional Images: Cheryl Mann
Stage Images: Kristie Khans
Premiere: The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago
Running Time: 80 minutes

Surrerlium

2006, Athenaeum Theatre; 2005, PAC/Edge; 2003, Vittum Theater

Initially conceived as a response to a child's fascination with a helium balloon - an object full of fragility, beauty, and tension - Surrelium offers visual metaphors for the ways we experience confinement and release, enchantment and transformation.  The work has 6 distinct sections, and together they offer a "transformed, alternate reality with optical illusions, complex composition, and delicate yet powerful movement that seems to take place in another stratosphere." (Chicago Sun Times). The Chicago Tribune referred to Surrelium as "Indefinable moments of beauty, wit, and fire…It's as if Degas and Magritte showed up in each other's dreams to playfully toss around images of the twisted and the sublime."

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Support

Surrelium premeried at the Vittum Theater in 2003, and was reworked in 2005 for Performing Arts Chicago's PAC/Edge festival on the Mainstage at the Athenaeum Theater. Excerpts have been subsequently performed throughout the Midwest, including Spring to Dance in St. Louis, and showcases for Dance/USA and Dance Chicago.

Credits

Choreography: Julia Rhoads and Krenly Guzman
Collaborating Ensemble: Krenly Guzman, Kim Goldman, Elizabeth Lentz, Kathleen Matuszewich, Julia Rhoads, Joanna Rosenthal, Jon Sherman, Jorge Troestch
Original Music: Kevin O'Donnell
Lighting Design: Margaret Nelson
Set Design: Joseph Ravens
Costume Design: Lara Miller, Cat Chow
Promotional Images: Alice Hensen
Stage Images: Cheryl Mann
Premiere: Vittum Theater (2003); Reworked: PAC/Edge Mainstage (2005)
Running Time: 45 minutes

Shift

2004, Vittum Theater

Co-created by Julia Rhoads and Krenly Guzman in collaboration with the performers, Shift looks at the physical language of texture and its translation into movement. The textural changes in performers' bodies continually alter their relationships to each other and create a movement landscape with a heightened sense of detail.

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Reviews

  • "Shift...is straight-up elegant." -Chicago Reader

Credits

Stage Images: Stephan Mazurek

Voyaging

2004, PAC/Edge

In the spring of 2004 Lucky Plush Productions and Walkabout Theater Company collaborated to produce an orginial performance, Voyaging, based on Charles Darwin and his world-changing voyage on the HMS Beagle. Dance, theater, music and visual design burst the boundaries of traditional biography looking at social behavior, class structure and biological attraction in light of evolution and natural selection. Voyaging was made possible in part by Elizabeth F. Cheney and the Chicago Community Trust project specific grants.

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Reviews

  1. "Voyaging...brims with equal measures of ambition, intelligence, whimsy, pathos, imagination and visual and aural delight." -Chicago Sun-Times

Credits

Promotional Images: Stephan Mazurek

Endplay

2003, Athenaeum Theater

Conceived and directed by Julia Rhoads, Endplay uses Samuel Beckett's "Come and Go" as a point of departure. The piece highlights a group of characters whose rituals and games serve as a means of affirming themselves as they are lost in a cycle of endless repetition.

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Reviews

  • "...a zany comedy that deftly mixes quirky silences, musical chairs-style games, some lovely rural-tinged romantic interludes and even a nutty tea party." -Chicago Sun-Times

Support

Endplay was also presented in 2004 at the Vittum Theater, and in 2006 as part of the Samuel Beckett 100-year festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Credits

Promotional and Stage Images: Stephan Mazurek

Reverie

2002, Athenaeum Theater

One of our shorter repertory works, Reverie utilizes 2 live-feed cameras – one from a birds-eye perspective – as well as pre-recorded footage of the work to evoke the illogical time frame experienced in a dreamlike state.

Reviews

  • "Julia Rhoads' Reverie is a wonderfully lyrical, erotic duet, exquisitely danced and set against a haunting video version of the work." -Chicago Sun-Times

Beneath the Surface

2001, Chicago's Union Station

In the Great Hall of Chicago's Union Station in September 2001, Lucky Plush presented a durational installation work as well as a dance film, both titled Beneath the Surface as a part of M5's Chaos. Collaborating sculptors from M5 created multiple projection surfaces for the video components of the installation.

Bedtime Stories

2001, Fairbanks, Alaska

Co-created and directed by Julia Rhoads and Holly Rothschild, Bedtime Stores draws upon pop culture archetypes such as Cinderella & Snow White, as well as the intimate and introspective aspects of sleep and human interaction.

Reviews

  • "Summer Arts Festival Gets Lucky" -Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Meet Them and Wonder/Vermillion Falls

2000, Fermilab Arts Presenter Series

Co-created and directed by Julia Rhoads and Holly Rothschild, Meet Them and Wonder and Vermillion Falls were first presented at the Fermilab Arts Presenter Series in April 2001 with Hubbard Street 2 and Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, and later as part of "LadyFest Midwest," a festival given critics choice in the Chicago Reader where Kerry Reid referred to Lucky Plush as "cleverly lunatic."

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Credits

Flipbook Images: Cheryl Mann

Rituals of Polite Seduction

2000, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse

Both dance-theater work and social satire, our first evening-length work Rituals of Polite Seduction is an absurdist take on gender roles and unfulfilled fantasies through a surprising collision of genres. Noted for its humor and unexpected elements of transformation, Rituals of Polite Seduction reflects on socialization and instinct without simplifying traditional arguments or reinforcing stereotypes.

Reviews

  • "It's such a pleasure to come across feminist artists with a sense of humor – and a gift for iconoclastic thinking." -Chicago Reader

Credits

Promotional Images: William Frederking

Swinesong

2001, Athenaeum Theater

"Lucky Plush Productions choreographed and performed [Swinesong], one of Dance Chicago's most entertaining pieces…It is evident that they share a penchant for theatrical work, adept at both provocative and humorous material." -PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art

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Credits

Promotional Images: William Frederking

Royal Flush

1999, Ruth Page Series

Co-created and directed by Julia Rhoads and Holly Rothschild, Royal Flush is the first of our shorter works. Royal Flush was nominated for a Ruth Page Award for "Choreography and Performance of the Year."

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Reviews

  • "Lucky Plush's Royal Flush is an excruciatingly funny expose of the fairy-tale illusion that women are princesses waiting to be rescued. Campy and satirical, Royal Flush shows plenty of theatrical savvy in the women's acting and their use of props and space." -Chicago Reader
 
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